Wednesday, September 13, 2006

4K, Day Two

Monday, 9/11/2006, my four year old whirlwind of a son Eighty-Eight Fingers dressed in a brand new, crisp and bright, orange and bright blue warm-up suit, donned a backpack that was half his size and covered him like a black and red turtle shell, and, of course, stuffed his feet into his now slightly broken-in Spider Man Light-up shoes. He was handsome and excited, poised to begin his adventure, this new era of the school-aged child.

The bus was scheduled to pick him up in front of our house at 12:30 PM; EEF was ready by 11:40 and waited eagerly on the couch in front of the window, staring out into the gray, rainy world for the big yellow bus that would carry him away into this new phase of childhood. With tears in my eye and not a little indigestion brought on by my overwhelming anxiety for his taking this step, I snapped pictures as he stood in the doorway in his new clothes and backpack and grinned from ear to ear, waving.

The first day went well. At least I heard no bad news, and as the saying goes No News Is Good News--especially where EEF is concerned. He came home bursting with stories of Science Class and Apple Projects and how the teacher read him Clifford the Big Red Dog. I was proud; delighted that his day passed without a hitch, and dared to think just maybe things might be all right...

The second day it was raining, a steady relentless rain that pours and pours and washes out all the light in the world. EEF was just as excited, just as eager for school. At 12:28 we moved to the door and I glanced down at him for one brief moment and told him to put on his backpack the bus will be here soo--- WTF? The bus, demon possessed, zoomed past our house. Good thing it was raining or it would have scorched the lawn! I ran out of the house trying to flag down the bus to no avail. I would have to rustle up the Fellers and drive EEF to school. Unfortunately for me, I was not listening during that part of the orientation, so I did not learn the procedure for dropping off one's beloved 4K-er at school (and I wonder where he gets it from?). Oh well, I figured, I would follow the other parents' lead--surely they would know what to do. Hah! It turns out no one else knew wtf they were doing either, as I will illustrate.

So I speed packed Fellers and EEF into the Wagon. I figured from the way the bus was flying though his route that I had very little time. My beloved EEF would be late for his second day. So I sped (a little!) to the school--a dangerous prospect considering the school is right across the street from police station, but oh well--we don't want to be late do we? I pealed into the circular drive around lot, and to my extreme surprise I was only the third car in the circular line. And the bus that so frantically flamed past my house was nowhere in sight, and in fact did not pull up until two or three minutes later, practically tipping over on its side as it rounded the corner and sped into the circular drive. Even after the bus pulled up, it did not release the children. And no parents gave any indication of what we should be doing except sitting in our cars and waiting. And since I wasn't listening at orientation, I had no idea when to expect the waiting to end. So we waited, and waited, and waited some more--we sat cooped up in the stuffy car, two toddlers and the oh-so-eager whirlwind boy who touched absolutely every dashboard piece, and waited. Finally after fifteen minutes (or was it 19 hours?) a teacher (or aide?) began letting some of the few children who were gathered by the door with their parents in. So I took EEF out of the car and walked him up to the door to be let in. The aide who was in charge of dismissing children from the bus singled me of all the parents who were doing this out and scolded me that next time I could drive up in the line of cars and she would let him out of the car. Maybe if I had been paying the least bit of attention at Orientation I would have known that. Anyway, he was finally at school. That fiasco was over with. I drove myself and the Fellers, sad because they weren't going to school too-ooo with EEF, home, put them down for naps and passed my afternoon with trivial chores meal preparations.

At 4:07, the scheduled school bus drop off time, I began waiting anxiously at the door. The Girl begged to be the one to get EEF off the bus, and I foolishly acquiesced. When the bus pulled up at about 4:20 she trotted out to meet him. The driver honked at her to come over at about the halfway point. Not a good sign. Too late for me to go out. I stood horrified in the doorway as I watched the scene unfold. EEF's little blond head bobbing as he walked to the school bus exit and descended the steps. The driver moving her head and hands animatedly as she explained...what? The Girl walked giggling as she half dragged EEF back to the house, holding hands, their arms a long chain between them. EEF was trying to keep up with The Girls longer strides, the tortoise-like backpack jostling around on his back--he looked so innocent, so small. Maybe my heart melted--a little.

Immediately as they were within earshot, I began the interrogation: Did he get in trouble on the bus?

The Girl, laughing hysterically: Yes. The driver said we needed to talk to him because he was swearing and spitting and if he does it again she will just write him up.

Me: Stop laughing, Girl! That is NOT FUNNY!

Me: EEF, what did you do?!?!?

EEF: (the mute headshake of his) I didn't do anything.

Me: (pouring all of my guilt and anxiety, irritation and frustration into this one word) EEF! You tell me what you did on that bus!

At this point I had the strange feeling I was watching myself as if I was a stranger. I think because of this strange out-of-body sensation I somehow managed to get a grip on myself and realized that it was not a good time for either of us to discuss the situation. I sent EEF to his room. He stomped off, plopped himself face first down on his bed, cradling his chin in his hands, wearing a scowl that would curdle milk.

I went into the kitchen and did some more work on what was to become our meatloaf dinner. Before the messy mixing part, I decided to question EEF. Still the denial, the mute headshake.

After more mixing and cutting potatoes for boiling, I went back to the room--still no cooperation.

Finally after placing the meatloaf in the oven and washing my hands and some kitchen surfaces, I went to EEF with a quiet voice and gently coaxed him into spilling the beans.

He said there were two girls, one from his class, the other he did not know, who were calling him some gibberish names. He kept telling them to stop, kept telling them he was EEF, but they would not stop. They teased and teased and teased. So finally, he yelled at them to Shut Up (and maybe some swears that he still will not admit to) and spit at them. As the scenario unfolded, it was like someone plunged a fist into my guts and twisted it. In my mind, I saw him there, getting teased, his temper rising as the names were slung. I watched in horror as he became angrier and angrier, yelling at them to stop, becoming so frustrated and flustered, and finally striking out with spitting. I know my son--how he is so incapable and inadept at handling situations like that. As bad as I felt for him, though, I had my duty as a parent, as his mother, and to society. I told him it was not nice for the girls to tease him, but he handled it poorly. Next time he is teased and the people won't stop, he must tell the bus driver or a teacher. Never, never yell at people and never, never, never spit on them.

Maybe I have been reading too many fairy tales. Maybe it was too much to expect that everything would be rosy and good without any effort on my part. It seems I will have to climb the mountain and slay the dragon after all. This morning, heart in my throat, a quaver in my voice, I called the principal of his school/director of special education and left a message to discuss my concerns about EEF in light of this bus incident perpetrated on his second day of JK.

3 Comments:

Blogger HomeFireBlue said...

OK, you are scaring me to death here! And i still have a YEAR to go before I do this!

*hyperventilates*

And as for EEF, I think he did well, considering. I think his reaction was apropriately 4-ish (if not appropriate, ya know?). I'll bet he has already grasped the right and wrong of it and has moved on.

Best of luck to you two as the days go on!

-Blue

13 September, 2006 11:26  
Blogger Sharpie said...

My heart was in my throat with you - SO hard to be mom isn't it??

14 September, 2006 09:27  
Blogger Overwhelmed! said...

First of all, have I told you lately how much I love your writing? It's beautiful and I enjoy it!

I don't envy you your task as a mother of a child now in school. I'm feeling a little anxious about the time when Snuggle Bug will start school (he's only 20 months) and your post confirms why I'm feeling anxious. I'm not ready to deal with the reality that there may be times when my son will be teased and I can't protect him. Kids can be so cruel to each other, can't they?

Thanks for sharing this story. Thanks also for stopping by to read my "How I met my honey" post. :)

15 September, 2006 10:47  

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